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Sunday 5 August 2012

FYI Statistics are Good-on "Apostasy"

December 2010 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found relatively widespread popular support for death penalty as a punishment for apostasy from Islam: in Egypt (84% of respondents in favor of death penalty), Jordan (86% in favor), Indonesia (30% in favor), Pakistan (76% favor) and Nigeria (51% in favor). From the GS. It is dangerous for a Muslim to become a Christian. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

On Communities and the Traditional Catholics

It has become more clear to me that one cannot become holy in isolation, unless one is called to be a hermit in the Church, which is a clear canonical status, mentioned before on this blog. Living alone is not being a hermit. It is not what Christ had in Mind for His Church. The early Christian communities had to be established to meet the needs of the members of the Church. Too many Catholics have let socialist and communist governments take over the role of the Church. This is not only heresy, but deadly for the future freedom of the Church.

The early Church worked at community-it did not "just happen". There were rules, deacons in charge of certain things and cooperation from both priests and the laity. Communities were there for service and not merely to feed the community. Some of the criticisms for certain organizations in the Church is that they are there only to continue. They do not serve, but are merely self-serving.

Community is absolutely essential for the life of holiness and the development of the virtues. God cannot round off the rough edges of our raw stones to make precious jewels without us bumping into each other on a daily basis.

Marriage and family life do this and religious life does this-provides us with opportunities to face ourselves and to repent, to grow, to be healed, to be holy.

Holiness in isolation is a false dream and at worst, self-deception.

Christ called a group of apostles and the paradigm for priestly formation is basically monastic. After ordination, a priest usually belongs to a sub-group, within his deanery, which can meet regularly. His ministries put him into groups of priests. He cannot avoid the healthy, daily interaction which leads to holiness.

I lived in a lay community for seven years a very long time ago in my twenties. I knew I needed others and others needed me to be holy. Those years were great formative years for me and broke me away from the world, the world of the 1970s. The community was large and balanced. In all of that time, I never heard any heresy or a whiff of anti-Catholicism. The only fault was that it tended to be anti-intellectual, but it was in the upper Midwest and that goes with the territory.

The discipline of the community was based on paradigms of what was thought to be that of the early Church. It worked for a long time, but as for so many of these communal experiences, it disappeared, or at least diminished over a period of twenty-five years.

Two-thousand people were in that community at its height and almost all of us were baby-boomers. We came from families with two parents, we were mostly Catholic, and we had a shared cultural background. The discipline was hard for some, coming out of the hippie era or the age of political activism, but on the whole it was a very good experience. I left to go to graduate school at Notre Dame. That was my personal call. Also, I had a vocation to marriage and could not find "that person" in the community. An intellectual girl was not always what a Midwest guy was wanting at the time. Many happy and solid marriages did come out of the community and I went to many bridal showers. Such common backgrounds and focus on Christ and His Church created healthy relationships, focused on God and family. I imagine the SSPX communities, which were not in my area at the time, have similar experiences. 

Traditional Latin Mass Catholics have not developed such communities, and I strongly feel this is a necessity. Why this has not happened is a mystery to me. But, if it does not happen, two things can occur.

One, in the very hard times, the traditional groupings will not be sustainable and these good people, myself included, will have no support group.

Two, the traditional groupings will die out from lack of re-building and re-populating. Where there are no marriages and children, the traditional Masses will die out simply because of age in some areas. 

The fact that the community I was in for seven years was so large was that it provided what was increasingly missing in the parishes-real care and real love. We loved the Trinity with all our hearts and minds and bodies.  We served each other. It was hard but very, very good.

These desires are missing. Part of the problem is the aging of the Church-going population. I have a broken toe, but still I have to walk to the grocery store. It is very painful. But, the vast majority of people I know in my local parish are my parents' age, and they all walk as well. This is an urban parish and few have cars. In fact, I do not know anyone with a car here in Catholic London. A very good and humble Franciscan priest helped me with my shopping. God bless him. I could not ask the ancient ones to do something for me which is also hard for them. In aging parishes. young people may come and go, but unless there is a school or a home schooling group, there is little real community. The remedy is simple. Get together in cross-age groupings. Do not isolate yourselves. Youth groups can create groups for older people as well. There are many, many old people in my parish who live alone and are very faithful Catholics. 

Unless traditional Catholics try and form these groupings now, it will soon become impossible to do so. The Recusant Church is England was organized. It had leaders and sustained underground communities and activities. It supported the seminary priests from Europe and helped them in the sacramental life of the Church. Some lay people died for this. But, the Faith survived. This must happen again, or the Faith will not survive in some areas.

The Pope recently told Catholics that every family should "adopt" a poor person in Europe. This idea was overlooked in the press big time. What a good idea; and the building of community would spread. Families are the key to communities and singles could join up with families to form daily prayer for the Divine Office or rosary and shared meals. If the traditional Catholics are not open, they will die out. God did not create us to live alone. And, He, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity showed up the way. Read the Acts of the Apostles, trad Catholics and think on this. The entire Catholic culture is at stake.

The last little meditation on the loaves and fishes passage

This particular meditation is more difficult for me. I was struck again when reading the passage at the familial relationships among the apostles. Now, remembering that the apostles are all men, this is significant.

Does the call of God to the priesthood run in families? I think so. I think in the good old days, before the disruptions of the 1970s, and even a bit earlier, families, such as mine, with priests and nuns tended to have more nuns and priests. I was taken to visit my aunt who is a nun and still living several times by my grandmother and parents. This was normal to go to the mother-house.

I loved it.

In this passage, John states clearly "One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother..."

Several things can be noted here. Firstly, Andrew is identified as Simon Peter's brother and Simon Peter is thereby given a higher and more honorable position by this data. Andrew is not just anyone's brother, but Peter's. And, both are disciples.

John also had a brother who was an apostle, James the Greater. All four of these men had been disciples of John the Baptist, so in a way, they were ready when the Baptizer pointed out Christ as the Lamb of God, as He Who was to come, as the Messiah, the Christ. Therefore, three of the four original apostles are mentioned in this Gospel passage. This is highly important.

John is showing the importance of this miracle. He is making it one of the centerpieces of his Gospel. Why?

The Eucharist is the centerpiece of the worship of the Church.

Peter and Andrew, James and John as two sets of brothers became cornerstones of the new Church, with Peter as the Rock, the foundation. How interesting that these physical brothers became spiritual brothers. But, they were that before they were called. Something in those families prepared the way for the fact that they said yes to Christ and became his disciples. Philip is always mentioned fifth after Peter, Andrew, James and John.

I pray that more families realize that the foundation for vocations to the priesthood is the family. There are three priests who are brothers here in England. This is not an accident. The Holy Spirit was working in that family not only to prepare those brothers for their vocations, but to open their hearts and minds to hear the call of God in the first place.

I wish that the turmoil of the late '60s and '70s would not have happened. There would be many more priests and nuns today.

From the Liturgy Office of England and Wales


JonathanCatholic Today

On the Perilous Cliff, or the Stalwart Rock?

In my last few posts on this blog I’ve focused on the identity of boys and men, but now I want to discuss an entirely different topic: Protestantism. As a convert to the Catholic Faith, I have always been very interested in analyzing Protestantism and Catholicism, and comparing them in order to see the essential differences in principles that shape our respective understandings of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Church. As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us, ideas always have consequences. Hence it is helpful, whether Catholic or Protestant, to be aware of what separates us in our ideologies and the perspective we come from as we approach the Sacred Faith of God made man, Jesus Christ. In this post I want to talk about one of the most striking differences that I have noticed in the fundamental outlook of Protestants and Catholics regarding the relationship between God and His Church.
In the title of this post, I refer to a perilous cliff and a stalwart rock; this analogy I use to compare the basic identity of the relationship between God and the Church in the Protestant mindset and the Catholic mindset. What strikes me so powerfully in the conversations I’ve had with some of my Protestant family, and in my own recollections of my thought prior to my conversion, is the sense that the Protestant worldview is like a man clinging to the side of a sheer cliff hundreds of feet off the ground. The Church of Christ in their view is like that man, and the Cliff he is clinging to is like Christ. In this mindset, suspicion abounds. No authority to them is established by God and thus no authority is exempt from being questioned, no ancient belief is out of bounds to be judged, and no orthodoxy is safe from being condemned, all of these coming at the whim or feelings of the individual Christian, feelings often motivated by fear of falling off of that Cliff Who is God and His Truth. It’s ironic, really, that as much as Protestantism emphasizes the grace of God and the relationship between Christ and an individual Christian, in the grand scheme of things regarding no less of a matter than determining the content of the Christian Faith, an individual Protestant cannot believe that the Church is protected by grace and has an irrevocably covenant with God whereby God steadies Her with His Hand and Spirit, and will not let Her fall nor fail Her mission in the world: the mission of the salvation of souls and the fighting of evil. Rather, the Church from Her earlier times clings to the Cliff that is God, struggling to find a toehold, fighting heresies without any authority to do so, and God will not even lift a finger to keep Her on track. Eventually, She fragments into tens of thousands of separate, broken shards as She falls from the Cliff and shatters on the ground, and still, God will not right Her nor pick up the pieces.

Contrast this with the Catholic Truth. Catholic mindset regarding the Church of Christ and her relationship with Christ her Divine Spouse may indeed be likened to a stalwart rock. The individual Christian need not trouble himself with worries that the Father’s grace and promises in the Holy Spirit will not preserve the Bride of Christ solid as a rock, and us in Her. Yes, the Catholic Church is as a stalwart rock, and we dwell upon that rock, upon the Chair of Saint Peter, the Pillar of the Church and the sure ground of unity and truth. The Lord protects His Church by His Grace to remain ever what She is, and His relationship to Her is steadfast, unfailing, and unmovable, like a Protector husband. The reason why the Catholic Church is solid and unmovable is because at Her core, you find dwelling in the Church and in all the hearts of every Catholic the Blessed Virgin, who is the Church personified and the ever-Virgin; eternally faithful to the Triune God, and the Church Militant in Her likewise.
Glory to God for His promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church!

A Wedding Speech Snippet

Can you imagine your father giving this speech at your wedding reception-a pro-life, pro-family, pro-Catholic teaching talk to all there? A friend of mine shared this with me and I pass it on. The is just a snippet. What a great witness to the Faith this Father gave to his family and daughter on her and his day.

Blessed Karl of Austria and His Wife, Zita
Permit me to use [this occasion] to reflect upon some immutable truths (the truth being synonymous with reality), truths that insist marriage be recognized as the fundamental institution of human society, by which a man and a woman - and only the one with the other - mutually give themselves to each other for the purpose of perpetuating life and raising children in a stable environment. Any interpretation [of marriage] that differs with this truth, and I weigh my words here, is invalid to the point of absurdity. I would even say that it is socially criminal to deviate in any way from this definition, because marriage is the foundation of the family, which is the nucleus of any ordered society. To corrupt this definition in any way is equivalent to splitting an atom, unleashing energy of immeasurable destructiveness and carrying terrifying consequences for our civilization.